By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the newly formed Israeli coalition, ready to release him, was the result of “the biggest election fraud” in the history of democracy.
Hours after Netanyahu’s comments, Naftali Bennett, the nationalist who will replace him as prime minister, called on Israel’s longest-serving leader not to leave “scorched earth” and to accept that “people are allowed to form a government – even don’t do it “t head”.
Netanyahu made his extensive accusation at a time when Israel̵
“We are witnessing the biggest electoral fraud in the country’s history, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Netanyahu told lawmakers from his right-wing Likud party.
He focused his allegations on a broken campaign promise by Bennett, who pledged not to partner with left-wing, centrist and Arab parties.
On Wednesday, Bennett announced with opposition leader Jair Lapid that they had formed a ruling coalition with factions across the political spectrum after a landslide election on March 23, Israel’s fourth in two years.
Under a rotation agreement, Bennett will be prime minister first, followed by Lapid.
No date has been set for a vote in parliament to approve the new government.
In a televised speech, Bennett called on Jariv Levin, parliament speaker and loyal to Netanyahu, not to try to buy time to encourage members of the new coalition to make a mistake, and said he should hold a vote Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from Levin.
“Let go. Let the country move forward,” Bennett said, addressing his remarks to Netanyahu, who has been in office since 2009. “Mr. Netanyahu, don’t leave the scorched earth behind. All of us, the whole nation, want to he remembers the good you did during your service. “
Netanyahu’s term was overshadowed by a corruption case in which he denied any wrongdoing, but won praise at home and abroad for the rapid introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations in Israel.
“FRAUD AND SURRENDER”
After the election, the future new government restricts political joking. Angry at the planned alliance, they staged protests in front of the homes of opposition politicians, whose security was boosted following threats on social media.
“We, my friends and I in Likud, will vehemently oppose the creation of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender,” Netanyahu said. “And if, God forbid, it’s found out, we’ll take it down very quickly.”
In a rare public warning, the head of the Internal Security Agency, Shin Bet, said on Saturday that increasingly extreme online discourse could lead to violence.
While condemning the violence and incitement, Netanyahu, 71, reiterated the identification of the Lapid-Bennett coalition as a left-wing alliance that would put Israel at risk.
He said the diverse partnership would not be able to stand up to Washington over Iran’s nuclear program or confront Hamas’s Gaza battle group, which has been fighting Israel for 11 days last month, before the fragile ceasefire.
Bennett, who heads the far-right Yamina party and advocates the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, said Netanyahu’s description of the coalition as “far left” was “another lie.”
(Additional report by Maayan Lubell and Ari Rabinovitch, edited by Frances Kerry and Timothy Heritage)